A Dam on One of Washington’s Best Salmon Rivers?

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In an era when dam construction is on the way out in the Pacific Northwest, Washington State officials are considering a NEW dam to be built on the Chehalis River, one of the states most productive wild steelhead and salmon rivers.

From the Wild Salmon Centre:

“The math behind a proposed Chehalis River dam just doesn’t add up. This spring, residents will have the opportunity to demand a better solution for people and fish.

A mile above the town of Pe Ell, Washington’s Chehalis River curves north around a wide, gravelly bend fed by fast-flowing Crim Creek. It’s a beautiful stretch of river—framed by firs and birches, with gentle riffles and cold pools teeming with juvenile steelhead. Chinook spawn here, too, and coho.

This is good salmon habitat, says Jess Helsley, WSC’s Washington Program Manager, despite the area’s history of logging and landslides. Fifteen percent of Chehalis Basin steelhead are produced within a couple miles of here, and the area is also of critical importance to spring Chinook. Even as wild salmon runs are in rapid decline across the Northwest, the Chehalis remains one of Washington’s most important salmon rivers.

“We’re expecting the state to give a full accounting of these negative impacts,” Helsley says, referring to a forthcoming draft environmental impact statement on the dam from the Washington Department of Ecology. The draft EIS is scheduled to be released February 27, initiating a two-month public comment period.

The public comment period, which ends April 27, represents the first opportunity for residents to weigh in on a project that, Helsley says, “costs too much, does too little, and has too many negative impacts” for people and fish. The dam wouldn’t generate hydropower, or agriculture water supplies, or new fishing opportunities for residents. But it would pose a serious risk to the river’s vulnerable fish populations…”

To read more about the proposed dam and how you can make your voice heard against its construction, check out the rest of the Wild Salmon Centre’s report, here.

Get more information on the Wild Salmon Centre’s campaign to protect the Chehalis River, here.

Follow the State Environmental Review Process here.

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